Saturday, November 11, 2006

Super-Earth composition, extraterrestrials hooked on 1950s television and global shade

Welcome! “Alien Life” tracks the latest discoveries and thoughts in the various elements of the famous Drake Equation. You may notice that this and future entries are shorter than usual; Career, family and book deal commitments have forced me to cut back some of my projects. Now, here’s today’s news:
g Abodes - The 200 known planets that orbit other stars exhibit incredible variety. Among them are a handful of worlds that weigh between 5 and 15 times Earth. Astronomers believe these "super-Earths" are rocky iceballs rather than gas giants like Jupiter. While theorists can explain how such worlds form around Sun-like stars, the discovery of super-Earths around tiny red dwarf stars was surprising. New research suggests that some super-Earths build up rapidly when local temperatures drop and ices condense out of the surrounding gas. See article.
g Life - Microbes may compete with large animal scavengers by producing repugnant chemicals that deter higher species from consuming valuable food resources - such as decaying meat, seeds and fruit, a new study suggests. See
g Intelligence - Sensory experiments along with other recent studies are revealing that sea cows aren't so stupid after all. See http://www
g Message - The first episode of “I Love Lucy” was broadcast sometime on Oct. 15, 1951. About 0.0002 seconds later, the signal glided over the rooftops of the farthest city suburbs, and headed into space. It’s still going. Every day, that first installment passes through an additional 4 thousand trillion trillion trillion cubic kilometers of the cosmos. Given that stars in our galactic neighborhood are separated by about 4 light-years, it’s easy to figure that roughly 10 thousand star systems have been exposed to “I Love Lucy” in the past five decades. That may suggest a high Nielson rating, but the chance that extraterrestrials are now hooked on 1950s television is low. See
g Cosmicus - Space technology could be used to create some sort of "shade" for the entire planet that would save us from global warming. See